The increasingly one-sided The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 29 rolls on tonight (Tues., June 22, 2021) on ESPN+, where UFC Featherweight Champion Alexander Volkanovski and top contender Brian Ortega look to coach their Bantamweight and Middleweight squads to victory.
Team Ortega extended its lead last week thanks to Tresean Gore, who cruised past top Volkanovski middleweight and former training partner Ryder Newman for a one-sided decision win. “T-City’s” crew now sits at 3-0, and it falls to Team Volkanovski’s Dustin Lapros to right the ship against Vince Murdock.
The current lineups:
Mitch Raposo, Dustin Lapros, Ricky Turcios, Brady Hiestand
Ryder Newman, Gilbert Urbina, Aaron Phillips, Bryan Battle
Bantamweights: Dan Argueta, Liudvik Sholinian, Josh Rettinghouse, Vince Murdock,
Middleweights: Andre Pretoski, Tresean Gore, Miles Hunsinger, Kemran Lachinov
Click HERE for recaps of Episodes 1-3.
First off, the aftermath of last week’s fight between Ryder Newman and Tresean Gore. Gore has nothing but kind words for Newman, and their pre-existing friendship looks completely undamaged.
Before training, Coach Volkanovski calls a team meeting to discuss their current skid, vowing to simply move forward and avoid “overthinking” things. He gets some surprise assistance from TUF 15 winner Michael Chiesa, a friend and training partner of Brady Hiestand who’s stopped by to observe and help out. He stresses the importance of the mental game and mindset in getting through the tournament.
As a side note, if anyone’s not convinced that Chiesa’s fully acclimated to the Welterweight division, the dude looks gigantic here.
Over on Team Ortega’s side, Gore’s grilling some good-looking steaks, and he invites Ortega to have dinner with them. They do some team bonding while Petroski gets a quick touch-up to his undercut.
Murdock and one of Ortega’s assistants check out Lampros’ Tapology page, deriding his low ranking and lack of experience going past the first; Ortega himself wants Murdock to take Lampros into deep water. Murdock admits that he’s got a “chip on his shoulder” over being the last Bantamweight pick.
Speaking of Lampros, he and Hiestand commiserate over their families’ struggles with addiction. Lampros chokes up as he talks about losing his mother to substance abuse just three weeks after he left their home town to move to Florida.
His home video shows off his home gym in Boca Raton. He talks about meeting Tyron Woodley in high school and ultimately joining his gym before moving to Florida at “T-Wood’s” recommendation.
Michael Chandler, a training partner of his at Sanford MMA, backs Lampros to win it all.
After an emotional phone call with his brother, it’s on to fight prep, where Lampros speaks highly of the new diet Team Volkanovski’s got him on. He intends to push the pace and utilize his height and reach against the shorter Murdock.
Murdock himself sits down with his coaches for a deep dive. He talks about being diagnosed with moyamoya disease in 2019, which led to brain surgery and could have killed him if he’d made it to his signed Octagon bout with Jordan Griffin.
Home video time. He shows off his training at Team Alpha Male, his newfound love of cycling, his expecting wife, and his cute dogs.
On Lampros’ side, Gilbert Urbina’s helping him shed the last of the weight. Lampros says he’s 12 pounds over the night before weigh-ins, and his coaching staff steps in to wring the last few pounds out and keep him company during the agonizing process.
Murdock’s up first on the scale and hits 136 without issue. Lampros, on the other hand, is less than a pound over. He tries again an hour later, however, and this time he’s on the mark.
Flashback to Michael Bisping’s myriad shenanigans on TUF 14, including a mariachi squad and an unreasonable number of fire extinguishers, and then it’s fight time.
Bantamweight Quarterfinal: Dustin Lampros (Team Volkanovski) vs. Vince Murdock (Team Ortega)
Round one: Lampros on the advance. Murdock with a pair of kicks. He tries to catch a low kick, can’t get anything out of it. Good right hand in combination a minute in. Murdock with some good clinch punches and low kicks. Overhand right connects. Lampros with a jab and left hook. Two solid right hands. Murdock forces him back with a flurry. Murdock catches a body kick two minutes in. Lampros still pressing forward, but gets dropped hard by a right cross. Murdock jumps on him with punches, and though Lampros makes it to his feet, a knee and more punches finish the job.
Final result: Murdock by TKO (knee and punches)
Murdock’s understandably happy with his performance, while Lampros feels he’s let the team down. The pair do share a nice moment afterwards, though.
Time for the fight announcement, though Volkanovski and Ortega have a spat over “T-City” being 15 minutes late that quickly spirals when Ortega slags Team Volkanovski’s efforts. Once that’s resolved, it’s Bryan Battle against Kemran Lachinov in a clash of last picks.
Same time next week!